End KCSO Radio Encryption of Certain Channels

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Petition the Knox County Sheriffs Office and our Elected Officials to leave the following channels in the clear on the new radio system: Dispatch 1, Dispatch 2, and Emergency. We respect the right for law enforcement like the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to encrypt the following tactical channels: Records, Supervisor, SWAT, Narcotics, and other sensitive channels. We believe that day to day channels and special events should stay open to preserve transparency. We respect encryption of certain tactical channels for the safety of officers. We believe Knox County Sheriff’s Office should consider a balance between transparency and officer safety. I am all for officer safety but I am a big proponent of transparency as well. I am a big time hobbyist into scanner/radio communications for several years and hearing as well as seeing what the people in public safety do has inspired me to pursue a career in law enforcement after high school. Me,radio hobbyist, the media, and many scanner monitors across Knox County would like to see this level of transparency continued.

There is little to no evidence to suggest that encrypting main channels will actually improve officer safety. Many agencies in the area and across the country have chosen not to encrypt main channels even some going for user selectable encryption to preserve transparency. We would like Knox County to join other not to encrypt these certain channels like Dispatch 1, Dispatch 2, Emergency, and Court Services. Please realize the issues encryption causes across the nation: interoperability issues, damage to public trust, and even officer safety issues with signal issues. All three of these are evident and have already had issues. The type of encryption Knox County is going with is only capable on Motorola equipment so when certain outside agencies without a Motorola radio will not be able to communicate with Knox county causing both interoperability and serious safety concerns. Some officers and other public safety personal from surrounding jurisdictions monitor your guys at times on their personal scanner to get timely info on pursuits and other situations as they arise. These personnel often relay info too their dispatcher before Knox County Dispatch can advise them.  Along with the officer safety issue with radios transmitting encrypted causing issues not being able to transmit clearly that was found during coverage testing compared to fewer issues with transmitting unencrypted.

The decision to encrypt Knox County Sheriff’s Office Talkgroups on the Tennessee Advanced Communications Network (TACN) has been primarily decided for months by the administration of KCSO with no announcement or opportunity for public comment or input. We support encryption of special teams traffic, but we want our the police to be transparent with day-to-day operations (dispatch channels) and just employ common sense when communicating potentially sensitive information. We ask Knox County Sheriff’s Office to leave their main channels open like several agencies in the area and encourage Knoxville Police Department to do the same when they transition to TACN as well. Including some of the following going to the new system: UTPD, KCS Security Division, Knoxville Fire, Karns Volunteer Fire, and Knoxville Volunteer Rescue Squad. We do realize there is some the that use the information they hear over your channels irresponsibly. We ask the Knox County Sheriff's Office not to encrypt the main channels and certain tactical channels to preserve transparency. As well as encrypting certain tactical channels for the safety of officers and protecting sensitive information.

 



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